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Melons

Melons

From the biggest of the big to the smallest of the small, melons seemingly have it all: taste, nutrients, fresh fluids and an irreplaceable coolness.

Nutritional Highlights

  • Most melons contain a good deal of water, which can help quench your thirst on a hot summer day.
  • As you might expect, certain varieties — like cantaloupes and honeydews — are a truly excellent source of vitamin C. Just 140 grams of cantaloupe, or about one cup, contains a whopping 80 percent of this essential antioxidant, and honeydews aren't doing too bad themselves, at 40 percent.
  • Melons also typically contain potassium, a vital electrolyte your body needs for the proper function of nearly all its cells.

History

Melons have always been a way to beat the heat. The first varieties were cultivated in the Middle East, where the summer sun can be devastatingly hot. Later, melons were so popular that Columbus brought them straight to the Americas, making them one of the first plants to be domesticated in the Old and New World at once.

Varieties

There is no end to the different varieties of melons out there. Hybrids abound in the grocery store, giving you your pick from any number of unique tastes. Some of the more common melon types include:

  • Cantaloupes. An old classic, these medium-sized melons have a tan rind, orange fruit and loads of beta-carotene.
  • Honeydews. If you want something sweet, look no further. Honeydews are about as sweet as they come, and, at five to six pounds on average, these light-green melons really tip the scales.
  • Casaba. Its yellow rind and sweet, white flesh give it away, but its smell doesn't, since the casaba hardly has any.
  • Persians. These medium-sized melons are very similar to cantaloupes but have a greener rind.
  • Crenshaws. As a hybrid between Persians and casabas, this unique yellow melon has pink flesh and a sweet, slightly spicy flavor.

When are Melons in Season?

Most melons peak during high summer. However, a few of the more unusual varieties become available later, the most notable being the Santa Claus, a green-and-gold beauty that peaks in December. And, of course, common melons like the cantaloupe are usually available all year.

How to Choose Melons

Most melons simply need to be crack- and bruise-free. To choose one that's ripe, pick a melon with a creamy, fruity scent and a cleanly cut stem with no sign of mold.

How to Store Melons

To ripen melons, keep them at room temperature for a few days. Typically, this means leaving them in a fruit bowl or the cupboard. Once they've ripened, enjoy! If a melon is already ripe, keep it in your fridge's fruit drawer.

How to Cook with Melons

For the most part, any recipe that calls for melon will probably use the fruit in wedges, balls or cubes. Prepping them is a cinch. First, wash the rind with warm, soapy water to rinse off any dirt or grit. Next, cut it in half and use a spoon to scoop away the seeds from the central hollow. Finally, you can slice or cube at will, or use a melon-baller to scoop out cute little spheres for fruit salads.

Key Measurements

Recipes rarely call for melon in anything other than cups.

Substitutions

Your best bet is to substitute one melon for another. So, if cantaloupes aren't quite to your taste, try honeydews. If those are too sweet, switch to Crenshaws. If those have a little too much spice, try Persians. Experiment!

Melons in Recipes

Mojito Melon Kabobs can rescue even the muggiest of outdoor barbecues.

Strawberry-Melon-Spinach Salad always wows the crowd, especially with a citrusy honey Dijon dressing.

And then there are Melon-Raspberry Smoothies — even the name is refreshing!

Related Recipes

Reviews & Comments

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